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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

ALEXANDER  VOK  HUMBOLBT.                  03
meet from soil, animals, and savages, deter him from
his plans.
Humboklt and Bonpland sailed quickly down the
serpentine Manzanares, with its shores studded with
cocoa-nut trees. They had embarked at Oumana on
a small merchant vessel, and taken leave of that town
as of a new-beloved home. Was it not the first land
which Humboklt had trod, in a region on which his
.heart had been fixed from his earliest youth, and he
says himself that the impression an Indian landscape
produces is so great and powerful that after a resi-
dence of some months one seems to have lived there
for years. This impression can in n o way be com-
pared to what a European northlander might perhaps
feel after a short sojourn on the gulf of Naples, for
the oaks and pines which grow on the Swedish moun-
tains have a family resemblance to those of Italy and
Greece—but here, between the tropics, where Hum-
boldt wandered, nature appears quite new and magi-
cal, and in the open field, as well as in the close-
grown wood, every reminiscence of Europe fades
away.
The potency of these  impressions  makes up   for
their duration : this explains why Humboldt yet, at
his advanced age, feels a kind of restless desire to see
those spots, especially Oumana, again.    There the sun
does not only shed light on a landscape, as with us,
—it gives a colouring to the* different obj ects; it en-
folds  them,  without destroying  their  transparency,
with a light which makes the colouring more harmo-
nious, and spreads a repose over nature whose reflex
still  exists in   a high degree in Humboldt's  mind.
This explains Humboldt's grief at quitting Oumana,
whose shores he had first trodden five months before
as a newly discovered land, where he had, at first,
approached every bush, every damp or shady spot,
with a certain mistrust, and where he had now be-
come so intimately acquainted with plants, rock, soil,
and  inhabitants.    He did not conceal this parting
pain, when in the eyening he could no longer reco-